Hamblin Slam Dunks Vanderbilt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Last season, Florida's Matt LaPorta hit a long homer here that folks around Hawkins Field are still buzzing about.

Now, they've got another one to remember as Danny Hamblin left a lasting impression when he smashed a grand slam to lift Arkansas to a 4-3 win against Vanderbilt on Sunday. It flew well over the green monster in left and almost cleared a wing of Memorial Gymnasium.

"We talked about not letting Hamblin beat us, but we had no choice but to pitch to him," said Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin. "He hit a Matt LaPorta shot into (Vandy basketball coach Kevin) Stallings' office. That's four runs and that's all they needed."

Hamblin's team-leading ninth homer gave No. 12 Arkansas (25-8, 6-6 in Southeastern Conference play) its second straight series win while handing No. 16 Vanderbilt (21-11, 8-4) its first series loss of the season.

"We tried to be loose with the guys all weekend," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We knew that we were going to have a little trouble on Friday (against ‘Dores ace David Price) and we did. Then we talked to them and said ‘That's life. Play the game. Let's go out (Saturday) and get a win and then try to win the series.'

"And that's what happened, so I'm as happy as I can be."

For the third time in the series, Vanderbilt scored first when Shea Robin clubbed a two-run homer in the fourth inning off Hogs starter Trey Holloway. It also cleared the green monster and landed atop the same wing of Memorial Gymnasium.

It was one of only five hits Holloway (3-0) allowed in six innings as he mixed in more changeups than usual with his fastball and breaking ball. He struck out two and walked one while throwing a season-high 85 pitches, including 53 for strikes.

"I keep making one or two mistakes every game and they end up costing me and it's usually with one of these home runs I keep giving up," Holloway said. "The plan was to make them put it in play because we knew the wind was blowing in a little bit and I tried to get as many ground balls as I could."

Arkansas' Logan Forsythe led off the fifth inning by being hit with a pitch and Matt Willard followed with a single through the left side of the infield. Two outs later, Jake Dugger walked to load the bases and set up Hamblin's second grand slam of the season.

Hamblin was upset for popping up in his previous at-bat when he missed a pitch he figured he should've clobbered.

"You don't get two chances many times in one game," Hamblin said. "But the pitcher made a mistake and I just stayed on the ball and good things happened."

The Hogs' junior hit another towering pop up later in the game that had Corbin counting his blessings and scratching his head afterwards.

"Those fly balls that Hamblin's hitting are in the air for seven seconds," Corbin said. "He just misses. He's an eighth of an inch from hitting balls off our admissions building out there (on the other side of Memorial Gymnasium)."

After the home run, the Commodores cut the lead to 4-3 when David Macias worked a one-out walk and scored on Pedro Alvarez' double to deep right center.

But Arkansas would limit the damage in the inning when Blake Parker, who's really starting to come into his own in his first season at third base, scooped up a hard grounder to his left before running down Alvarez from behind as he tried to advance on the play.

"(Parker) was aggressive and he picked it before it exploded and jumped over his glove into left field," Van Horn said. "They maybe would have got a run in, but that gave us two outs and got us out of the inning.

It was one of two base running mistakes by Vanderbilt. The other came in the sixth inning when Willard, the Hogs' shortstop, snared a line drive and flipped it to second for a double play as Ryan Flaherty was caught too far off the bag.

Holloway was relieved by Chris Rhoads at the start of the seventh inning. He escaped the seventh and eighth with two runners on base before retiring the side in order in the ninth to pick up his third save.

"When we had guys in RBI situations, they were able to induce us into bad swings," Corbin said. "Holloway did what he needed to do and I thought Rhoads was effective as well."

Rhoads had struggled in Saturday's game, but received a mental lift in the form of pep talks from Van Horn pitching coach Dave Jorn before Sunday's outing. In seven relief appearances, he has yet to allow an earned run.

It completed a solid weekend for the Razorbacks and they deserve a lot of credit for being able to bounce back from suffering their largest margin of defeat all season in Friday's 7-1 loss.

"Obviously, we pitched off on Friday (starting Charley Boyce instead of Nick Schimdt)," Van Horn said. "I don't tell stories. That's what we did and we got beat by the best pitcher (Price) in college baseball in my opinion. The guy's going to be in the big leagues probably a month after he signs a contract. That's how good he is.

"We got beat, but didn't burn up our bullpen and we won two games to win the series. So we did what we came here to do."


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